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Book Review: The Prodigal’s Foole by RB Wood (relaunch of book)

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

My good friend R.B. Wood has relaunched his urban fantasy thriller The Prodigal’s Foole after getting his rights back from his former publisher, and he’s completely redone the cover to something that’s flat-out fantastic. I’m reposting my book review from a few months back, along with a high-res shot of the new cover.

Friends, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy for a measly $2.99 for Kindle (less than the “tall” latte I bought yesterday at Target – seriously, a book for less than that swill?) The story is even more flat-out fantastic than the new cover – one of my favorite reads of 2011. It’s currently available for Kindle and paperback (Mr. Wood chose the KDP Select route, but I won’t hold that against him…too much)

Don’t think about it. Just buy it. Or I’ll find you…

Click for full size

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ORIGINAL REVIEW: 

Demons and magic, shotguns and explosions.

That’s how I described The Prodigal’s Foole by R.B. Wood to my 11 year old son who asked me what the book was about. His attention span is short (what 11 year old’s isn’t?) so I had to summarize, and there’s so much more. Hence, a book review.

First of all, I have to say the opening of the book might very well be my favorite of any I’ve ever read:

“The old lady next to me in the window seat died somewhere over the Atlantic. I know because she told me.”

How’s that grab you? It certainly grabbed me, and never let me go.

This was my first real dip into urban fantasy, and I have to say I loved every minute of it. Wood weaves a complex story with excellent characters, believable magic (is that an oxymoron?), and humor into a hard-to-put-down novel. And when I found out that this was his first work, I was even more impressed. The writing style, the sentence structure, the plot consistency, the nice use of flashbacks, the editing, all are truly top notch.

Symon Bryson is a reluctant magic practitioner called back into action by old friends to combat a growing menace from Hell, and to help find a missing friend. He has to face not only this new danger, but his own dark past as well. The Catholic Church plays a large role in the story, and is not bashed (a la Dan Brown) nor praised (a la, uh, not sure…televangelists?), but portrayed in a modern, realistic way that fits well into the overall story.

The characters are fleshed out very nicely, and the team dynamic is excellent. And can I say Symon Bryson is one of my new favorite characters in any book? His wisecracking, inner emotions, and pop culture references kept me entertained throughout. Wood even pokes fun at some of the more ‘fantastic’ fantasies out there (one line I remember is when a character suddenly morphs into an animal, a person in the room says, “Where do her clothes go when she changes?”).

And here’s the bottom line. Like most readers (I think), I “see” the story as I read it, and in some cases they remind me of other stories or movies. And even though there are no vampires (thank goodness) in The Prodigal’s Foole, I couldn’t stop thinking about the movie Blade with Wesley Snipes. The characters, the modern setting, the demons, the weapons, the action, all mixed together like one of my favorite movies of all time – which meant I truly loved this book.

And the best part? It sets up very nicely for more stories in the series. I’m looking forward to more from Mr. Wood. The Prodigal’s Foole was definitely one of the best novels I’ve read this year…and he’s got me peeking into the Urban Fantasy genre now.

Book Review: Unspoken Stories by B.C. Young

September 28, 2011 1 comment

REVIEW: 

Want to win a copy of the book? See the bottom of the post for details!

I’m not normally a short story reader; I prefer my time to be spent with full length, involved works, but the concept of Unspoken Stories (according to the author’s blog, named because without some friendly motivation and a new outlook on writing itself, he may never have written them) sounded fascinating. Five separate, unrelated, stories, all based in a different science fiction niche (some more scifi than others), all in one volume. I’m very glad I took the chance.

Unspoken Stories consists of Copy Bird, Going Home, Josie Dorri and the Coffee Ban, The Present, and Running to Keep Her. The author explained he wrote each one in a fairly short time frame; as such there are some minor editing issues, but nothing that would pull the reader from the story. One by one, my thoughts on each:

Copy Bird: A very unique present tense telling of a post-apocalyptic world. A man awakens in a burned out future society, thinking he’s alone, only to hear the call of a bird, speaking to him, pulling him along to an unknown destination. This was probably my favorite of the five. Great emotion and feelings of the protagonist, and a heartwarming ending.

Going Home: A young man has leave from military service against an alien invasion sweeping the human populated worlds, and takes time to visit his family and tries to keep his promise to them. This story started and ran slow for me, but when I completed it, my thoughts on it completely turned around. Looking at it as a whole, knowing the way it ends, made it an excellent tale.

Josie Dorri and the Coffee Ban: A different way of looking at the future Big Brother type society, one where cofee is banned, both for drinking and possessing. Easy to relate to, as well as easy to compare to some of today’s odd rules and regulations.

The Present:  A view on time travel from a personal perspective, and a twist on “what would you do if you could” with the added facet of how it affects others. Good flow, and relatively (no pun intended) easy to follow the timeline.

Running to Keep Her: A touching story about loss and what a man does to remember, and how that affects his life going forward.

Overall I enjoyed the volume. B. C. Young has a knack for storytelling and keeps the reader interested from start to finish. Even though each story was completely unrelated and stands on its own, they all have similarities and common threads that show Young can write. Looking forward to a few more short stories from him (never thought I’d say that…)

Unspoken Stories can be found for Kindle, Nook, and at Smashwords.

More information on the author can be found here:

Web Site/Blog: the-time-capsule.com
Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/authorbcyoung
WIN UNSPOKEN STORIES! Leave a comment below that lists the MISSPELLED WORD I typed above and I’ll choose one random correct guesser to receive an ebook copy of Unspoken Stories!

Review of Shattered Destiny by Shay Fabbro

August 23, 2011 2 comments

REVIEW: 

The Mekans are arriving, the galaxy is about to face its greatest danger, and the Chosen are in trouble. So goes the second installment in the Portals of Destiny series from Shay Fabbro, Shattered Destiny.

Love this cover...

I thoroughly enjoyed Book 1, and was waiting not-so-patiently for Book 2, as I felt after reading Book 1 that so many characters were introduced, I never got to really know them. Fabbro does an excellent job in Book 2 of re-introducing and going much further into them. It was very enjoyable to see Brok and Feeror again, the Earth Chosen, and maybe my personal favorite, the clones (just love their matter-of-fact speak!)

In Shattered Destiny, the four separate planets’ Chosen are coming together to try to work as an integrated team, even family, to fight off the coming Mekan invasion, which as we learn in this book (not really a spoiler here) have already landed on Astra (in one of my favorite scenes in the book). Many trials and tribulations face them, including a local ‘civil war’, all of which challenge them to get through to make it to their ultimate goal – stopping the Mekans. And along the way, some of the Chosen may face their ultimate fate.

My only con about the story (and the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars) is there were a lot of traveling scenes; characters going from here to there, stopping to eat and camp, and to me (with a hidden, secret case of adult ADHD I’m sure) sometimes slowed the pace a bit. However, those same scenes gave the author more time to get into the characters, which at the end of the read made me understand them that much better.

I very much enjoyed Shattered Destiny, and with Fabbro’s introduction of the Mekans themselves, I’m very much looking forward to the finale in Book 3!

Find Shattered Destiny, only $2.99, here:

Amazon (Kindle) • Barnes & Noble (Nook) • Smashwords (multiple platforms)

Review of Interference from Jim Blackstone

May 9, 2011 2 comments

REVIEW:

Interference starts off with a bang, literally. I won’t be giving anything away by saying this, as the book jacket reveals it, but the dramatic assassination of the President of the North American Union sets events into motion that turn a science fiction novel into more of a suspense/mystery, and Blackstone definitely keeps the pages turning. However, that’s not saying it’s not science fiction!

Some fascinating ideas Blackstone has written into Interference. The Kingdom, man-made terraformed area in the far northern reaches of the North American Union, populated supposedly by backwater barbarians. Sonic shields that snap into place at a threat detection. Mech assault robots with impressive weaponry. Cloning and genetic engineering to create better and better humans. Floater vehicles that can be shut down by command of authorities, or tasked to hunt. Blackstone weaves the ideas well into the overall story, never overemphasizing them, and perhaps more importantly, never violating the “Show, Don’t Tell” rule.

I found the story to be compelling, and I was actually more drawn to the character of Detective Henry Corvasce as opposed to Damien Reyes, the one blamed for the President’s killing and the one each chapter starts off with (Reyes being interrogated in a unique fashion – interrogated for lack of a better term that might give away part of the storyline). Corvasce made for an excellent main character; deep, well-written, believable, and likable. If another story is to follow, I hope that Blackstone brings back Corvasce as the primary character in another mystery-type setting.

Sections of the story do get very complex at times, as Blackstone has certainly done his homework on quantum physics and mathematics, but no so much as to get lost in. The book was well-edited; minuscule typographic errors, I don’t even think I can count them on one hand, and certainly far fewer than I’ve seen in mass-market novels. My only comment (because gripe would be far too strong a term) would be the ‘interrogation’  at the beginning of most chapters is all dialogue in quotation marks, and with some of the dialogue being multiple short statements, I did find myself having to read back a few lines to really determine who was speaking. But that in no way whatsoever took away from the overall mystery/suspense story, the excellent characters, and the resolution at the end I was very much looking forward to reading.

Blackstone has put out a good story – entertaining, good characters that are well-developed, an intriguing political mystery with science fiction settings and technology. I can certainly recommend Interference.

Available in paperback at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

Review of The King Whisperers by Dr. Kerwin Swint

April 21, 2011 5 comments

A few weeks back, I was privileged enough to twitterview* Dr. Kerwin Swint, author of The King Whisperers.

*Twitterview – what a cool word, huh? Even cooler concept. Following along with a Twitter hashtag (#emlyn) and creating a real-time, online dialogue, audience members from around the world can peek in, see Q&A, and even throw in a question or two. I had a blast in March doing several!

Going into it, before taking a look at his work and the overview of his book, I had read that he was a professor of politics at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. So…thinking back to a poli-sci course I had in college, with possibly the most droll and monotone professor I had in my four (well, four and a half) years there, I was hesitant. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea…how interesting could a professor of politics be, and would anyone care enough to ask questions?

Just a few minutes into the twitterview, I found Dr. Swint incredibly engaging, personable, knowledgeable, and really down-to-earth. At the end of the standard questions, audience members jumped in with some great questions, and Dr. Swint had some equally top notch answers. After it was over, I had to (a) rethink my bias towards poli-sci professors, and (b) make it a point to get a copy of The King Whisperers. The first was easy, since I’m not sure how many more professors I’ll run into in the future, but the second took a couple of weeks. Once I received it, I dove into it, and my goodness, it turned out to be a truly fascinating book.

Before I give a little summary of the book itself, I thought I’d pull out some of the most interesting Q&A’s from the twitterview:

  • Q: What do you write?
  • A: Mostly politics and history: The King Whisperers tells the stories of some of the greatest power brokers and manipulators in history.
  • Q: Who were the most fascinating ‘evil geniuses’ you found when researching the book?
  • A: My favorites are the really bad guys, the young Stalin, Hitler’s right hand, but also today’s power brokers like Cheney and Rove.
  • Q: There are so many “whisperers” for every leader nowadays. does this, and pollsters especially, diminish the power of the electorate?
  • A: The messages get clouded up with partisanship and ideology, which is too bad.
  • Q: When it comes to writing political, historical fiction, how soon is “too soon” when covering an event?
  • A: Great question, cause over time the details and interpretation can change, can’t they. Usually it takes 5 or 10 years for context.
  • Q: Sooo…. how is Obama doing?
  • A: Toughest job in the world. would probably be reelected today, but who knows about 2012!

As for the book itself, I found it to be an incredible peek behind the scenes of some of the most famous and most powerful leaders in history. Machiavelli, Che Guevara, Rasputin, and dozens more, all arranged by “type”  – whether they be Fixers, Schemers, Kingmakers, Empire Builders, Rebels, or Silver Tongued Devils.

This non-fiction book never read like a history text, which could be how it appears from the cover, book jacket, and overall theme. It was very well-written, done in layman’s terms, easy to read, and actually hard to put down. The fact that this figures existed, and the stories are so fascinating, makes it an excellent read.

I’ve never been a history reader, but I can absolutely recommend The King Whisperers just from the standpoint of a reader in general. Take a peek at Dr. Swint’s site, as well as some really interesting trailers below.

REVIEW:

Tour Notes:

Please vote for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins a free promotional twitterview and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official King Whisperers blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.

The next word for the book give-away is HELPING. Learn more about the give-away and enter to win 1 of 3 copies on the official King Whisperers blog tour page. The other 2 copies are being given-away courtesy of the GoodReads author program, go here to enter. And don’t forget to stop by the Q&A with Kerwin Swint Group to discuss the King Whisperers (including questions from the official book club guide), the author, and his previous works.

Book Trailers for the King Whisperers:

Review of Chasing Filthy Lucre by Jarrett Rush

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

REVIEW:

When a greedy corporate power threatens the status quo in Weber Rexall’s town and he’s tasked to do something about it, nothing will stand in his way.

Tough guy Rexall, his underground fighting ring cohort Berger, and a synthetic Serve-O named Simmer are just three of the incredibly interesting characters Rush writes into Chasing Filthy Lucre, the first part in a novella series, one that entertains right from the first page.

Rush seamlessly blends cyberpunk technology and post-apocalyptic settings with deep characters the reader can truly feel for. The tech itself is fascinating; without giving anything away, when Rush describes the hothouse and its patrons, the remarkable imagery he puts together could easily have been pulled from a scene in today’s world. The scene descriptions, such as the underground fighting and the ‘package delivery’ scene (again without giving too much away) are rich, and really paint a detailed picture in the reader’s head.

The story is fast-paced and progresses logically, with a couple of twists, and an exciting climax, then easily feeds into the next novella in the series. Definitely a page-turner, and very well edited for a self-published work. Absolutely worth the download, I’m looking forward to the next in the series!

Find Chasing Filthy Lucre, currently only $0.99 (c’mon…how can you go wrong?) here:

Amazon (Kindle)Barnes & Noble (Nook)Smashwords (multiple platforms)

More about Jarrett Rush: http://jarrettwrites.blogspot.com/

Review of The Chosen: Book One of the Portals of Destiny, by Shay Fabbro

April 3, 2011 1 comment

REVIEW:

 

Mekans…even the name sounds foreboding. Machine intelligence, stripping the resources of planet after planet, making their way across the galaxy, leaving burned out husks in their wake. The only hope for the survival of countless species are The Chosen, small groups of four different species who are watched over and trained by Guardians from the planet Gentra. The Gentran prophecy says The Chosen hold the key to defeating the Mekans, but when one Chosen is killed, the prophecy may be in jeopardy. This is the epic science fiction/fantasy story Shay Fabbro has begun to weave with Book One of the Portals of Destiny.

Fabbro paints a vivid picture of five distinct worlds, and pulls it off with no trouble, something many world builders have issues with in just one. There is a wide range of characters, many of which are delved deeply into, enough so that the reader can identify with several at once. Fabbro makes it easy to follow each, as the races are significantly different enough not to get confused. A reptilian warrior race, a clone race, a magical race, and of course, humans – albeit post-apocalyptic.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, from start to finish. The detail in the worlds, the depth of characters, the grandiose far-reaching plot are all done in an easy-to-follow format and style. At certain points I do feel it gets a bit deep into description, but knowing this is the first part of a series, and knowing the full story will not wrap up by the final page, it all makes perfect sense.

I felt the mix of science fiction (clones, weaponry) and fantasy (magic, transformations) was very well done. The overall crafting of the story reminded me a bit of The Empire Strikes Back, mixing the science fiction scenes with the Jedi training fantasy aspect.

The only negatives I encountered, and completely my personal opinion, would be a little bit of point of view confusion, but only very rarely; and (possible spoiler alert) I felt the key killing of the Chosen happened a little too late in the story (I kept waiting for it to happen, as the ‘book jacket blurb’ emphasizes it). But absolutely nothing that detracts from the overall story, which was well edited…much more so than most independent authors’ works I’ve read before.

I’m very much looking forward to Book Two, which I understand is just around the corner, as Fabbro has put together the beginnings of an epic story arc with very interesting characters. And it’s just starting!

For more about Shay Fabbro and her writing, and where to buy the book, visit TheChosenBook.com